Saturday, 7 March 2009


You know how sometimes that solitary space inside your head can have a full-blown conversation (ok now I sound coocoo on top of everything, but bear with me) or narrate a full-blown commentary to... absolutely no one?
Well today I imagined I was writing as I walked down the street to buy a computer chair for the Man who was severely desperately in need of one.
Specifically, this is what I thought to you, dear reader, sweet blog:

Picture this:
I'm walking down a crowded narrow pavement and there is a press of people on either side. Old people young people punks wheelchair users a policeman. There's a group of excruciatingly loud teenage girls in PIIINK! sweatshirts and overly tight jeans walking in the sunshine on the other side of the road. There's a girl wearing fuchsia hair and leather trousers and HUGE boots, walking arm in arm with her boyfriend. And there's an old gentleman with a walking stick slowly threading his way through this market yard of weirdness.
Remember My Fair Lady?
Remember Professor Higgins?
Think of an older, more sober version.
Perhaps I'm going too much by appearances? (But what an appearance!! Dark green hat, old looking tan leather gloves, a beige trench coat, shoes exactly the colour of the gloves, his back upright despite the walking stick, his gait perfectly controlled. The trench belted shut, I notice, not flapping all over the place. Every buckle done up just so. To suggest polish, not stiffness. Ten years younger and I'd have kissed him.)
He radiated class and poise and finesse. And none of it appeared put on.

And I wondered: What does he think?
And, (all hail, the inevitable cliche!) I felt sad. Who cares?!
And (all hail, the ego!!) I felt a tiny stab of holier-than-though annoyance at everybody else for appearing to not give a fuck.

I wondered:
What's he seen, where's he from? Such a long life! He still dresses like it's the '40s. Is that habit or taste? What can he tell me - or us - that we really need to know. What can he speak about, what issues can he comment on and still sound relevant? And what is 'beyond' him? What does he think of the fuchsia hair? What can he tell us about living through an economic crisis, a world war, bigotry, social movements, transformative social change, human rights, exploration, discovery. What does he think now, about heartache and loving? Would he recommend we waste our time on it? Did he waste his time on it? What can he tell us about living the best possible version of each of our lives? What would he have done differently? Does he recommend the experience of living? Or in retrospect, does it all seem like a jolly old (a phrase I guarantee he uses!!) waste of time? What can he teach me? What can I teach him? Is there anything I know that he doesn't. Is there anything he knows that I really really should? Anything he can say that we should all listen very carefully to?
I suspect he can say a lot.
Even if he says nothing, or very little. A life lived in such interesting, challenging and gut-wrenching times!! We should be celebrating him as a triumph of nature! He lived through all that! Any other species, an individual gets to that age and an ecologist would give it a metaphorical thump on the back and say well done, you! Our species, someone survives life and still goes for walks on Saturday afternoons, we should say well done, you!
And everybody was just passing him by, not even looking. Like they also passed by the sunset. The pinkest, most luscious sunset this week. The whole sky was aflame with it and wreathed in feathers as the doves settled down to roost. And they just passed, passed it by, looking at the pavement.

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